Nothing like a discussion on religion to cause folks to lose their shit. Bring up Neo-Paganism to Christians and either they have no idea what you are talking about or they revert to the old stand-by – Devil Worshippers. By the same token? Bring up Christianity to your average Neo-Pagan and off they go on ill-informed, badly researched tirades about Christians “stealing” early Pagan traditions. It doesn’t take long to discern the similarities between the two systems; they both like to live in their world born bereft of facts.
Which early Pagans saw what traditions stolen when? There were thousands of different forms of polytheistic beliefs during those early years of civilization. Romans took from Greek, Greek took from Mesopotamia, Slavic liked the Norse and mixed it with their own influences and depending on the location of the Pagan tribe – some of the Greek concepts as well.
The cold hard fact is, Neo-Paganism of today has indulged in more “thievery” than the Christians have done. Neo-Paganism is in its infancy and if it continues on its path of fairy tales and revisionist history? It will either die out because the hypocrisy will be too evident for people to stomach or it will continue on a linear path of arrogance, mimicking their foes – the Christians. The opportunity to create a philosophy based on respect, not fairy tales and outright bullshit, based in knowledge and creating personal strength is here, and it is now. Either the Neo-Pagan community gets its collective head out of fantasy and starts progressing upward or it becomes as nonsensical as all the other faith based systems or religions.
There are no “gods” – this is no one “god”. That much is true. There are archetypes, created by man to exemplify what we all strive toward. The Christians, Jews and Muslims simply amalgamated their archetypes into this one persona – simplifying things, for sure. By and large, do they live by this personification and representation of virtues? No but then, nor does anyone else with the exception of the Buddhist monks, I would think.
Roman Catholics, however, did find a way to complicate their own lives by adding in the saints; also personifications of virtues. Again, few are followed to the letter. Saints also provide them with a blanket of security and hope. All good unless you start beating up on others over it.
Oh yes, the Christians killed Pagans. And Pagans didn’t kill Christians? Of course they did, in rather large numbers and in many hideous fashions. Neo-Pagans tend to ignore this or gloss it over with tales from the Inquisition. A topic also rarely researched. The Inquisition was simply a smoke show to rid the church of dissenters, and dissenters included Jews, Muslims, Gnostics, Heretics or anyone else that found inconsistencies within church doctrine vs practice. Witchcraft was simply an easy tool to use as justification.
Few of the executed were actually witches, if any.
There are a lot of Wiccans within the Neo-Pagan community; the lack of knowledge regarding the origins is astounding. There were no Wiccans in pre-Christian Europe. There were tribes, warring tribes, trying to survive and trying to understand natural phenomenon with no frame of reference. Human sacrifice seemed to be an option for appeasing gods; gods created by man to explain the seasons, earthquakes, the lights in the sky, pestilence, famine and sickness. Cannibalism was practiced as well; eating dead enemies imparted their qualities and also calmed the pain in the belly.
We do not have anything in common, nor do we share any common experiences with the early Pagan civilizations.
Early Jews used specific blades to sacrifice animals – they didn’t steal the ceremonial blades from Wiccans. Candles/lamps were the only source of light – they didn’t steal those from Pagans either. An understanding of the hardships faced in a world devoid of any of our luxuries, like fresh water, adequate tools for cooking, electricity, medical care and shelter is desperately required prior to jumping on a soapbox with the cape of victimization firmly tied about the neck.
There is the old stand-by of uneducated Neo-Pagans as well…the CHRISTIANS STOLE OUR SOLSTICE!! No, they didn’t steal it. It wasn’t ours to start with. Solstice is simply a celestial event belonging to no one. Solstice is around the 21st or 22nd – depending on the year. Christmas is a constant and celebrated on Dec. 25th unless you are Orthodox, in which case, Christmas is 13 days later. The reason for the choice of Dec. 25th is rooted in politics, nothing more. It had little to do with the conversion of Pagans and more to do with bringing the various warring factions of Christians AND Pagans together in order to prevent the empire of Constantin going broke and falling to pieces. Constantin, in collaboration with Licinius, created the Edict of Milan which stated that all people were to be permitted to worship whatever religion floated their boat without persecution. Later on, he declared that all religions should come together under the Solstice or “Venerable Day of the Sun.” No stealing, just a man who had or so it is believed, converted to Christianity, trying to bring a bunch of religious nuts together under one banner, in order to achieve a little peace.
The time to point fingers and live in denial, ignorance has passed if Neo-Pagans wish to survive or be taken seriously. I’m, technically, a Neo-Pagan and even I don’t take a good majority of the community seriously. Pick up a book, read something other than Cunningham, Ravenwolf or Buckland. History, study it and learn from it; don’t continue to repeat the same errors, ad nauseum.